The Decriminalization of Marijuana in Illinois
DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorneys
Over the past decade, Americans' relationship with marijuana has changed. States and municipalities have passed progressive laws allowing citizens to use marijuana for medical and personal use. In a few states, recreational use of the substance was completely legalized. In the summer of 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2228 into law, making Illinois the 21st state in the nation to decriminalize the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization. There will be no cannabis retailers or resorts opening in Illinois any time soon. But Illinois residents will no longer face criminal charges for the possession of a small amount of marijuana. However, they can still face civil charges for this offense. If you are facing a charge, criminal or civil, for an offense involving marijuana or another controlled dangerous substance, work with an experienced DuPage County criminal defense lawyer to defend your case.
New Laws Illinois Residents Should Know
Under the new law, Illinois adults may possess up to 10 grams of marijuana without facing a criminal charge. Instead, possession of marijuana is a civil charge for which an individual may face a fine of $100 to $200.
Previously, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a Class C misdemeanor and possession of up to 10 grams was a Class B misdemeanor. Individuals convicted of these offenses faced fines of up to $1,500 and up to six months in jail.
Perhaps the most notable part of the changed law is that now, civil charges for marijuana possession will be expunged from individuals' criminal records automatically. This means that an individual who is charged for marijuana possession does not have to worry about his or her charge following him or her for years, impacting his or her ability to obtain a job and causing him or her to face social stigma. Prior to the law change, individuals who had been charged with marijuana possession had to petition to have their records expunged in order to remove the charges from their records.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Marijuana
It is still illegal to drive a car while under the influence of marijuana. In Illinois, any driver who is found to be impaired by a substance, such as alcohol, marijuana, or another drug, is subject to a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. In Illinois, the legal limit for THC, the active component in marijuana, in a driver's bloodstream is 5ng/ml. This can be detected with a blood or urine test.
THC is very different from alcohol. THC metabolites can be found in an individual's bloodstream weeks after he or she uses marijuana. However, the mere presence of THC does not indicate impairment, and this change in Illinois’ DUI law removes its former zero tolerance policy.
Facing a Marijuana-related Charge
If you are facing a DUI charge for driving after using marijuana, you can defend your case with the aid of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. In Illinois, if you are asked to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample by a police officer, you will be asked to comply with the request. Refusing to do so will result in an automatic suspension of your driver's license.
However, you are not required to complete a field sobriety test. These tests, which can include walking in a straight line and turning or standing on one leg, do not always accurately show a driver's level of impairment and in many cases, can make him or her to appear more impaired than he or she actually is.
The possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is still a criminal offense, as is the sale or trafficking of marijuana and related paraphernalia. The penalties for the possession and sale of marijuana and its paraphernalia depend on the amount of marijuana possessed and whether the purchasing party was a minor or a pregnant woman.
Work with an Experienced DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing a criminal charge for a marijuana offense, speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can to determine an appropriate defense strategy for your case. Do not wait to get started – be your own advocate and contact our team of experienced DuPage County criminal defense lawyers at Mulyk Laho Law, LLC today to schedule your initial legal consultation in our office.